Regular readers will notice that the following article is a slight departure from our usual preview style. For gamescom 2010 we've adopted a streamlined structure, allowing us to cover as many games as possible while giving you the important juice and info. In many cases we'll be running longer, more detailed previews upon our return to the UK.

What is it?

The fourth entry in THQ's landscape-exploding Red Faction series. Set three generations after Guerilla, Armageddon has you taking on a merciless, insectoid alien race threatening to kill the subterranean residents of Mars. Volition is trying to take Guerilla's impressive destruction engine and incorporate it into a linear shooter. A 4-player survival multiplayer mode - dubbed 'Extermination' - has also been announced.

Red Faction: Armageddon is being developed for 360, PS3 and PC, and is scheduled for release in March 2011.

What was shown?

New protagonist Darius Mason (grandson of Guerilla's Ben) tries to help a supply convoy through an infested underground mining facility. He gets attacked by two types of alien nasty: Creepers, svelte little buggers that attack en mass, and Ravagers, bulkier monsters who - unlike Creepers - possess basic intelligence. A new alien type also introduced in this demo was the Lightning Ravager, but if you need me to explain the nuances of that creature you're beyond my help.

The underground caverns of Mars allow Volition to design architecture that twists around a full 360 degrees, and then to let players destroy it with things like the new Singularity Cannon, which opens up miniature black holes and hoovers up anything in the vicinity.

Volition showed a few minutes of combat, giving Darius plenty of opportunity to find himself mobbed by aliens - there were plenty on the screen at any one time. The rejigged nano-forge gives the crucial Shockwave ability, allowing Darius to stun nearby enemies and knock them in the air. He can also repair any man-made object to its optimal state, allowing him to make cover from rubble or construct desks to fling at his foes using the physics-based Magnet Gun.

Our reaction:

It's all gone a bit Dead Space, hasn't it? Volition stress that the similarities end after tone and setting, emphasising the game's heavy focus on combat. When you consider that Dead Space 2 is about beefing up the combat quotient, though, you start to realise that the two games are undoubtedly going to find themselves competing for our attention come Spring 2011.

What's always set Red Faction apart is its GeoMod physics engine. Destructible environments are still huge part of the game, too, and the highlight is undeniably the Magnet Gun. It's been shown before, but it's genius enough to warrant another explanation: attach a magnet to an object and you can fire it at anything else. Stick the magnet to the side of a building and it will, brilliantly, tear whopping great chunks out the surroundings and fling them along for the ride.

There's a clear focus on opting for a more narrative-driven experience than in Red Faction: Guerilla, but this hasn't left me entirely convinced. Darius seems a bit hokey, and the supporting cast from the demo sound like they were phoning in their dialog. Mars is always a good haunt for some merry alien bashing, however, and Volition hasn't really given away much about its plot yet - for all I know it could be the most magnificent work of Sci-Fi ever written.

What is clear, though, is that nobody can make a building collapse like Volition. And it's probably a good sign that publisher THQ is definitely sweet on the title: they've commissioned a TV miniseries and a downloadable game to be released as companion products.

Red Faction: Armageddon is due for release on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in March 2011.